If you have dreams of being Phil Ivey or Annie Duke or Chris Moneymaker, you need to go to Las Vegas to play some poker. If you have never been, as you can imagine, it is an amazing experience. The modern casino poker rooms are more like palaces with beautiful felt tables, a buzzing atmosphere, and modern amenities like USB charging stations and flat-screen TVs. The poker room at the Wynn Las Vegas even has a sportsbook window right in the poker room! But, before you head to Sin City to get fitted for your World Series of Poker bracelet, there are a few things you need to know. Here are 7 first-time tips for playing poker in Vegas.
Play poker in the poker room
There are two general types of poker games at a casino. There is the poker that is played head-to-head against other players in the poker room and there are the poker table games you will find in the regular casino pit. These games, such as Three Card Poker, Let It Ride, Caribbean Stud, Pai Gow Poker, and others, should be avoided. They have worse odds and a bigger house advantage than both playing poker straight up and even other table games such as blackjack or craps.
“If you really feel the need to play a poker table game,” says Lucian Marinescu, a partner at OnlineCasinoGems, “play Pai Gow Poker. It has a lower House advantage than games like Three Card Poker or Caribbean Stud which have some of the bigger House advantage percentages in the entire casino.”
Look for daily tournaments
A good way to get a serious return on your poker investment is to play in a tournament. Almost every poker room in Vegas has at least one, if not more, daily poker tournaments to play in. Usually, these tournaments run you somewhere between $50 – $200 for an entry fee and will guarantee a winning prize of $1,000 or more. You do not have to win either to finish in the money. Most tournaments payout the Top 20 or so players so if you can hang on for as long as possible, you can have hours of poker fun and win your money back or walk away up.
Know what beats what
This is an elemental part of poker and when you are in Vegas, it is very important you know this like the back of your hand. There is nothing more embarrassing than reaching for a pot with a straight when someone else has a flush. It will make you look like an easy mark. Before you head to Vegas, commit to memory this order of what beats what – high cars, pair, two pair, three of a kind, straight, flush, full house, four of a kind, straight flush, royal flush.
Makes Chip Stacks of 20
A tip that will not only make you look like a pro but will also make the game much easier for you is to stack your chips in stacks of 20. This way, you will know how much you have in your bank at any given time and will be able to quickly make or call bets without having to go through the time-consuming routine of counting your chips each time. Why stacks of 20? Because, it gives you nice, round numbers in any denomination.
- 20 x $1 chips = $20
- 20 x $5 chips = $100
- 20 x $25 chips = $500
- 20 x $50 chips = $1,000
Open your mouth
A poker table in Vegas is not a place to sit in total silence. Talking a bit at the table will help your game in a number of ways. You do not have to engage in banter with other players but calling out your actions will help everyone involved and be greatly appreciated by the dealers and other players. Do not just push chips into the center. Say “call” or “raise” (followed by the amount) so that everyone knows exactly what you are doing. It will make the game much smoother for all. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Dealers, other players, or casino managers will all be happy to help and will be glad you asked instead of inadvertently breaking a rule.
Put on your poker face
One of the most unique things about playing poker at a casino is that you are playing against other people – not the dealer or AI robots – who can base how they play against you based on your reactions to things. In blackjack, the dealer can see your cards and they have to hit at certain times no matter what, so you can celebrate that 21 as you see fit. In craps, when the dice lands, everyone knows the outcome so there is no hiding. In poker, you need to keep a calm, cool, and collected demeanor so that your opponents can’t use your reactions to their advantage. That is why a great poker face, as described in Gambling News Magazine, is so important.
Remember, poker has been ruled by a court of law to be more a game of skill than a game of chance. That is why you need to be locked in and focused when you are playing in Vegas. Even when you are out of the hand, watching how players bet and what they have when they do will be helpful to your game over the course of your game. Also, the other reason for this tip is that you want to be aware when it is your turn. No one likes the person who always has to be reminded that play is to them. Don’t be that guy or girl.
Yes, your first time at a poker table in Vegas might be a little nerve-wracking, but it will also be thrilling and exhilarating too. If you keep these few tips in mind, you will have a great experience and maybe even walk away with some money when it is all said and done.